Retailers Face Bill for Truckies' Waiting Time

Release date: 11/12/2012

Retailers will be forced to reimburse transport operators required to wait unreasonable times to unload goods under a union plan to be put to an industrial tribunal.

Ewin Hannan, The Australian

Truck driver Frank Black at Hexham in Newcastle, NSW, yesterday, says 'a lot of the blokes are getting screwed." Picture: Nikki Short Source: The Australian

The Gillard government's Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal yesterday announced retail would be among five sectors investigated as part of its annual work program next year.

The tribunal will set pay and conditions in the industry in a move the government says is designed to encourage safety and reduce fatalities and injuries.

The Transport Workers Union accuses big retailers of using their economic power to pressure truck drivers into bearing unreasonable costs, including income lost as a result of waiting long periods to unload.

Michael Kane, the union's assistant national secretary, said imposing penalties on big companies should be investigated as a way to reduce waiting times.

Frank Black, who represents owner-drivers on the Australian Trucking Association, said drivers often spent hours waiting for goods to be unloaded without getting paid for the time.

"A lot of the blokes are getting screwed," he said.

Mr Black said as drivers were not paid for the waiting period they were under pressure to make up lost income.

"After decades of truckies trying to stand up against the unfair and unreasonable demands of major clients like Coles and others, we are finally going to see (clients) held to account for all the pressure they put on the drivers out on the roads."

Australian Industry Group workplace relations director Stephen Smith said a new system of waiting-time payments could result in significant extra costs for the transport sector.

"The issue of payment for waiting time requires careful consideration . . . because any changes to the existing arrangements could have significant cost and other consequences for road transport companies and their customers in industries like retail, which are facing significant cost pressures," he said.

Key issues needed to be addressed before orders were considered by the new transport tribunal, which state Coalition governments had threatened to scuttle in February, he said.

These issues included the relationship between remuneration and safety, as well as an examination of the effectiveness and limitations of current federal and state road transport laws.

Australian Logistics Council managing director Michael Kilgariff said retailers were committed to improving the efficiency of distribution centres.

Click here to read the original article at The Australian

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